The Right to Information Commission today (Tuesday July 2nd) issued a directive to the Department of Prisons to submit the conviction dates and case numbers of 20 convicted prisoners condemned to death for drug trafficking as contained in a list sent to President Maithripala Sirisena several months ago.
This was in response to two RTI appeals filed on an urgent basis invoking an imminent danger to life and liberty of citizens by the Colombo based Centre for Policy Alternatives and by journalist Malinda Seneviratne. The Department submitted that the release of the names could only be after consultation with the named prisoners as some might object to the release.
Both appellants also asked for the names of the four convicted prisoners reportedly singled out for execution as stated recently by President Maithripala Sirisena who said that he had ‘signed their death warrants.’ In addition, Mr Seneviratne also asked for Rules and Regulations issued by the Department of Prisons relating to prisoners on death row, inclusive of directives issued under Section 94 of the Prisons Ordinance. The relevant Rules were ordered to be released by RTI Commissioners Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Selvy Thiruchandran and SG Punchihewa.
The Commission heard these appeals out of the normal procedures stipulated under the RTI Act, extending the reach of Section 25(3) which calls for an urgent response ‘where the request for information concerns the life and personal liberty of a citizen.’